Strikers are the most exalted breed of players in the game of football — they have the ability to delight and disgust you in equal measure. The rules of football are simple, the team that scores the most number of goals wins. As such, the entire objective of the squad is to create goal scoring opportunities, and strikers are entrusted with the responsibility of putting them in the back of the net. From the Fernando Torres missing an open goal against Manchester United back in 2012 to Paulo Dybala’s sensational brace against Barcelona a few days back, strikers are often pivotal to a team’s success — or sometimes the lack of it.
Sportwalk takes a look at the top 10 strikers who are plying their trade in world football at the moment:
10. Andrea Belotti
There is something about Serie A – it has produced at least one breakout striker every season for the past couple of years. From Alessandro Matri to Edinson Cavani and Ciro Immobile, the list is long and includes players who have both made it big and those who haven’t. Andrea Belotti seems to be the next It player in this list: the Torino forward has scored 26 goals this season, including 24 in the league. His style of football is aggressive and he is heavily built, which gives him a distinct physical advantage over many defenders. The 23-year-old is certain to be in the center of a bidding war in this summer, with the likes of Juventus, PSG and Manchester United all taking a keen interest in him. He, however, needs to tone down his hotheadedness a bit, having already garnered 5 yellow cards this season, or he is guaranteed to fail at the highest level.
9. Alexandre Lacazette
Easily one of the most consistent strikers in world football at the moment, Alexandre Lacazette has graduated to the footballing elite following his explosive goal scoring exploits for Olympique Lyonnais over the past few seasons. In 2013-14, he netted 21 times, then in 2014-15, he scored 31 goals followed by a 23-goal campaign in 2015-16. This season, so far, he has put the ball in the back of the net a mind-boggling 30 times across all competitions. Capable of playing as a wide forward or as a number 9, the Frenchman has struck up an impressive partnership with Nabil Fekir and Corentin Tolisso at the club and has apparently impressed both Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. With a heavy build and excellent dribbling abilities, the 25-year-old will be looking to announce his presence in the higher echelons of European football next season.
8. Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala has been a known entity in football for a few years now, but his performance against FC Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League has firmly placed him in the media spotlight. Juventus beat the Catalans 3-0, and two of the goals came from the Argentine who was in sublime form that night. Despite having scored a meager 16 goals so far in the campaign, he has managed to underline his class by delivering on the biggest stage(s) possible. Blessed with an exceptional game-reading ability and dribbling skill, the former Palermo striker will only get better with age. He recently signed a new contract with the Old Lady which will see him stay at the club till 2022, and the 23-year-old will be looking to improve his tally and earn a much-talked-about move to Real Madrid within the next few years.
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
There are very few footballers, who like wine, get better with age and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is certainly on top of that list. Having arrived at Manchester United on a free transfer from Paris St. Germain last summer at the age of 35, the Swede has scored 28 times this season. Without his goals, United would be 8th in the league and would probably not win the League Cup or make it to the last eight of the Europa League. He does not only score goals but is also adept at dropping deep and bringing others into the game, something which only the best in the business can do. He recently compared himself to the fictional character Benjamin Button who grew younger with time, after netting his 250th goal since turning 30. The former AC Milan man needs to score just 7 more goals to become the highest scoring non-British player in their debut Premier League season, and Jose Mourinho will certainly be hoping that he continues his rich vein of form if his team are to achieve their targets this season.
6. Harry Kane
The Tottenham forward has been one of football’s hottest prospects since the 2014/15 season, and he only keeps getting better and better. Featuring in a formation that sees him head a side that plays wide, expansive football, Kane has tucked in 24 goals in the season. His key strengths are his ability to link up with other players, especially Eriksen and Son as well as his ability to score from shots taken from outside the box. PSG, Barcelona and Manchester City are all monitoring the former Arsenal protege, and it will be interesting to see if the Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy can keep him at the club this summer.
5. Alexis Sanchez
Although not an out and out forward, Alexis Sanchez has been making headlines in the Premier League this season following his superb goal count. Arsenal has had a miserable season so far but the Chilean has been one of their few bright spots. With 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, he has successfully donned both the creative playmaker and the lethal finisher’s hat. His form has however dipped of late following controversies regarding his contract extension, but the Gunners will be hoping that he starts firing on all cylinders as soon as possible since the business end of the season has kicked in.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
No list of top class forwards is complete without Cristiano Ronaldo and this one isn’t any different either. Although age has taken a substantial toll on the Portuguese hitman, he has still raked in 28 goals this season. His brace against Bayern Munich a couple of nights back not only helped Real Madrid register a memorable win at the Allianz Arena but also managed to shut all his detractors who said he could no longer shine at the biggest stage. The Galacticos may break the bank for a new forward this summer, but it is obvious that Ronaldo still remains their go-to man in the most demanding circumstances.
3. Lionel Messi
Just like Cristiano Ronaldo is a sure-shot candidate in every list featuring the best forwards, so is his Argentine contemporary and eternal rival Lionel Messi. The Argentine has not been in the most scintillating of forms this season, but he is still pivotal to Barcelona’s aspirations in the La Liga and the Champions League. With 42 goals in his kitty so far, the La Masia graduate will be disappointed that his team is not in a better position when it comes to individual competitions. The Catalan faithful will be pinning their hopes on their God come next Wednesday, as they look to do an unlikely comeback over Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final.
2. Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann is the poster boy of Spanish football currently, and his statistics justify the tag. Capable of playing as a wide forward in a 4-3-3 or as a single striker in a 4-2-3-1, the Frenchman has really turned the tables after enduring a slow start to the season. Atletico Madrid has a rich history of developing exceptional strikers, and Griezmann may just be the pick of the lot which also features the likes of Diego Forlan, Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero. Manchester United are likely to procure his services this summer for a world record fee in excess of 100 million pounds, and at 26 years of age, he is only going to get better.
1. Luis Suarez & Robert Lewandowski
With 26 and 33 goals respectively, Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandoski top our chart of the world’s best strikers. Suarez plays at the center of a trio that also features Messi and Neymar, while Lewandowski is usually a sole striker up front. The Uruguayan often shifts places with his compatriots in the wide areas while the Polish striker usually makes most of his movements in and around the box, but both of them are absolutely lethal when it comes to finishing off moves. You can expect both of them to feature in the final Ballon d’Or shortlist for the next year if they keep going in the same vein of form.
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